Gatens Working Toward March Madness

March 28, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa – – It is NCAA Tournament time, and Matt Gatens and the Iowa men’s basketball team is hard at work in hopes of reaching the dance next year.

Iowa’s leading scorer (12.6) this past season took some time away from his workouts to support a fellow Hawkeye team. The Iowa City native threw out the first pitch at Duane Banks Field prior to the Iowa baseball team’s game against Western Illinois.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Gatens. “It was great to be able to go out and support Coach Dahm and the baseball team. I appreciate them asking me to do that. It was a great experience.”

Friday, Gatens and the Hawkeyes began their offseason workouts.

“We had a little time on the court with the coaches,” said Gatens. “I was able to get some good ball handling work in and some shooting.

“The NCAA only allows us so much time on the court per week, but we are trying to get as much work done as we can. The main thing is getting the weightlifting taken care of and doing a lot of individual work, because the coaches can only spend so much time with us.”

Gatens, a co-captain this season, has a few items he specifically is working on.

“I am doing a lot of work on my ball handling and moving around the rim, as well as shooting off the move and coming off screens,” said Gatens. “I did a lot more of that this year than I did in the past. I am really looking forward to next year. We will be more prepared and know what Coach McCaffery expects out of us. Now we have a really good idea of what we need to work on in order to get to that next level.”

Gatens, who ranks 30th in career scoring at Iowa with 1,103 points, noted it will be beneficial to have a full offseason with McCaffery to help get to that next level.

“It will be huge,” said Gatens. “We know what he wants and he knows what he is working with now. Last year when he arrived, we did a lot of basic work. Now we can focus more on the specifics, both as a team and individually, with a full offseason.”

Some of Iowa’s offseason work is being done at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but some will be done elsewhere. For Gatens and his teammates, a renovated Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be well worth the wait.

“I am really excited about Carver,” said Gatens. “We have seen the plans, and all the work that has already been done. It is awesome for this program. It helps with recruiting and the fans will really enjoy the renovations.”

Watching a program such as VCU, a No. 11 seed, advance to the NCAA Final Four is fun, but tough at the same time for Gatens.

“There are a number of teams in the tournament we have beaten or were close to beating,” said Gatens. “It is a lot of fun to watch, but we want to be out there competing. Coach (Kirk) Speraw was telling me how tough it is to watch it and not be a part of it. We all feel the same way.”

Iowa played with the best of them this year in McCaffery’s first season, notching two victories over top-50 RPI teams, including sixth-ranked Purdue. Iowa had a number of near-misses, falling five times by three points, including two in overtime, and twice by five points.

“I would love to experience it (NCAA Tournament) before it is all said and done,” said Gatens. “I have one more year to do that; it is what we are working towards.”